About 3,000 youths are to be trained by the Akwa Ibom State government on a scheme meant to identify, train, mentor, empower and build capacity of existing Medium and Small Enterprises, (SMEs) as well as Start Ups across the 31 Local Councils of the state.
This was revealed by the state Deputy governor, Mr. Moses Ekpo who represented the governor during the flag-off of the scheme in Uyo yesterday.
Known as “Ibom 3,000 Project”, he said that the first phase is meant to improve the capacities of youths of the state in diverse vocational, technical, entrepreneurial and managerial skills in Oil and Gas, Agribusiness, ICT and SMEs to enable them secure gainful employment.
He stressed that SMEs remained the backbone of economies as they generate local capital and high level of productivity resulting in economic growth and as such the scheme remained strategic in building capacities of youths in the state.
The Governor said the state government would continue to patronize SMEs as key drivers of the state economy but would focus on creating and driving viable SMEs in order to improve their contribution to the Gross Domestic Product of the state.
He explained that beneficiaries were identified and selected from across the three Senatorial Districts of the state and charged them to take advantage of the programme and rise to the peak of their area of interest
In a welcome remark, the State Commissioner for Trade and Investment, Mr. Ukpong Akpabio said that the overall goal of the scheme was to train youths to be self reliant and to be relevant in the emerging opportunities in the upcoming Ibaka Deep Seaport, the Oil and Gas Free trade Zone and other industrialization programmes of the state government.
“Our assembling here is a call to duty and a sober reflection on the persistent demand placed on us by our people to pioneer and supervise events that will signal a new beginning of proper coordination and implementation of the vision of our Governor to drive employment and investment in our society through Ibom 3,000 Project.
“The immediate and long-term outcome is to lay a solid foundation for the development of Small and Medium Scale Enterprises to compliment the efforts of the state industrialization and it’s potentials for employment generation,” he said.
The commissioner who commended the Governor for his foresight and support for the programme also thanked investors and partners who have continued to stand behind the scheme meant to secure a brighter future for youths of the state.
Ukpong further stressed that for the COVID-19 pandemic, the initial plan was to train 9,000 each year for three years even as the ministry was forced to reduce the number of beneficiaries to 3,000 each year in order to accommodate COVID-19 protocols.
He said the state government would cater for the accommodation and feeding of the trainees during their 2-6 months duration of training while arrangements have been made for camps for the trainees depending on their areas of interest.
He appealed to the beneficiaries to be committed and dedicated to their training as this would build their confidence and make them independent as ambassadors to keep the vision of the scheme alive.